Top critical review
Shockingly & Unexpectedly Coarse.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 2, 2023
I'd recently read a couple of this author's novels; liked them, and so downloaded this one. A bookstore, a beach, some romance -- what could go wrong?
What went wrong was the disconcertingly raw, crude terminology involving any reference to sex. The aggressive language is much closer to the way men talk to each other in a bar, NOT the way women think -- or want to read in a "romance."
For example: After attending a high-toned fundraiser banquet, Bree's not-yet boyfriend is sitting with her in the parking lot; and suddenly he's asking whether she masturbates.
EXCERPT."...'Is it manually, or is there equipment involved?' He leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes. 'I picture you in bed, on your back, legs spread. Trimmed bush. The whole nothing-down-there-look isn't my thing. You start out slow, circling your clit, then going faster and faster.'"
EW. So anatomically, gracelessly graphic.
And that's BEFORE fearful Bree even agrees to an actual romance with the guy, whom the author obviously wants us to LIKE. And supposedly Bree is turned ON by this?
I like a good romantic sex scene as well as anyone, but this kind of approach was needlessly coarse, and jarringly pervasive. (Sorry, I'm trying to see if this romance progresses, but you want to distract me with what she named her vibrator?!?) This almost feels as though it was written by a man using a pseudonym.
And is EVERY character here arguing for sex and "commitment" without marriage? Even Ashley's brother? I've never been married, but I have a brother, and he'd want to go pummel the guy who'd so disrespect his sister.
At more than halfway through this book, the women are still three different kinds of fools, entirely lacking self-worth; unable to make a decision or decide what's good for them. I can't have respect for them, if the author doesn't.
Also, dear writers: If you start a book by introducing about a dozen characters, kindly provide a family tree or relationship chart preceding chapter one. Don't leave the reader turning every page, thinking, "WHICH mother-in-law is this? Which woman has the kids? Is the bookstore lady the same one with the snotty absent parents?
So: I'd enjoyed some of Mallery's previous books, but I'm not finishing this one, or buying any others. Very disappointing.